{Tsuga Siberians}
September 30th, 2008 - "Just Do It (Again)"

Fall colors in the dog yard.
Training at the farm.
The boys at camp.


Hello all.

I'll get right to the big news for TeamTsuga, and that is we are going back to the Yukon Quest in 2009! We were kind of half-hearted when we signed-up in August but have since secured a loan that makes this possible and we'll be leaving New Hampshire and heading for Two Rivers, Alaska in a couple of weeks with 20 dogs to train for Quest and run some early season warm-up races. The decision to bite the bullet and go back to Quest was not an easy one. The desire was plenty strong to go back almost as soon as we finished last year, and where there's a strong enough will, there's a chance to find a way. We have the team to do it now and have decided to sell our house to finance the dream, if only the house would sell. For now, the debt will mount, but the dream will live. You only live once. (As far as I know.)

So, we'll be just outside of Fairbanks with our friends Sandy and Bill McKee for the winter. We stayed with them several times last year, including for the Quest start. They have a second cabin on their land that is quite comfortable with electricity, running water, and internet access. We're really looking forward to being in Alaska this time around. With nearly unlimited miles of good trail out of the yard, including the Quest trail, we will have excellent training and new trails for us and the dogs to explore. Having the amenities of Fairbanks 20 miles away will also be an added pleasure this year. Not to mention, we know a lot more people there than we did last winter in the Yukon. Last year's experience was great in many ways, but it became an exercise in overcoming things. This winter we hope to have more fun and not have to struggle through as much. It's way easier to prepare when you know what's coming at you and I know we can do a better job in preparation and execution during the race.

One step we decided to take this year is to leave our retired dogs here in New England instead of transporting the whole kennel like we did last winter. Our friend Ken Haggett runs a touring operation with his team of siberians and has agreed to take Wyatt, Birch, Squiggle, Kobuk, Maple, and Hawkeye for the winter. Last week we got together up at camp so he could see them run and get to meet them. After two days of training together, we loaded them in his truck and he already reports they've mostly settled in to his kennel. It was pretty tough for us to let that group of dogs out of our sight. Those guys include the very dogs that started all of this, but we really feel they'll be happier not having to get trucked across the continent just to sit on the sidelines. Ken will give them a great spot to be until we return in the spring. His business ensures lots of attention for the dogs and fun but short runs. Although we'll miss them until spring, it really is a perfect situation. Additionally, it will allow us more room in the dogtruck for the racing dogs and lighten the load, too. Its benefits out-weigh the loneliness we feel without them and we're convinced it's as good a plan as we could have devised for all involved. Check out Ken's site at peacepupsdogsledding.com

So, we are down to the 20 dogs that will make the trip north in a couple of weeks. Jim is the old-timer of the bunch. He'll be 10 in November but still has every desire and ability to make the team. The nine Quest finishers (Stump, Mugs, Gila, Reba, Hood, Merlin, Logan, Ambler, and Eliza) are all running strong so far this fall, seemingly picking up right where we left off last spring. Wilson, Gecko, Lotus, and Trip lead the candidates to fill the remaining spots. Curly, Cassin, Isis, Moon, and Esther will all have to work hard to leapfrog on to the Quest team. Zirkle is, of course, just along for the ride in the front seat. Fall training has been sporadic so far with temperatures not staying consistently cool enough, but we have had about 15 training team hook-ups, although our longest run is only 5 miles. They are finishing runs wanting more and as soon as the weather allows it, they'll get it! The team looks great and we will have a focused, determined effort to do our very best this winter.

So, we're in the process of finishing things up around here, packing, saying goodbyes, arranging details in Alaska and at stops on the way, closing up the house, etc. It's a busy time, but we're excited to have the chance to live our dream, again.

Sue and I will be speaking at the sleddog trade fair this weekend. Come on out and see the slide show. Details are at the link on our home page.

Thanks for checking in with us - Mike, Sue, and TeamTsuga.
Reba & Wilson
Trip & Stump


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